My Hell on Earth–Revising and Housework

For me, revising is like housework. It’s Hell on Earth.

I have five kids. My house is a wreck—all the time. Needless papers make their home on top of cluttered countertops. Soccer shoes and cleats and backpacks litter the floor to the point where people have to step over stuff to get into the house. Dishes pile up in the sink at an alarming rate, and the recycling bin overflows several times a week.

When I stand in the middle of the chaos, I feel…chaotic. Some people, who love to clean and organize, would rub their hands together gleefully. Oh, the corners I can clean! I can’t wait to get started. Not me. I shut down. I look around, not knowing where to begin, so I go find something else to do.

Same goes with revising. I love to create the story. I love bringing my characters to life. I love making them overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. I just can’t seem to do it myself.

This is why I have five manuscripts with very little revising. I create, and then when I go back in to revise, there’s so much work to do that I go off to find something better to do. Like start another book. And the process begins again.

Housework and revising are so similar. For me, I shuffle papers from one counter to another. Sometimes I’ll neatly stack them to make it look like I accomplished something. Anything. It’s the same in my manuscripts. I shuffle scenes and clean them up a bit, but usually I’ll walk away when the hard stuff pops up.

I have a super hard time throwing things away. I file away cute stories my kids have written. I keep the progress reports. I keep pieces of toys because I’m sure eventually the other parts will magically appear. My grandma’s saying was always, “If in doubt, toss it out!” But, I’m a keeper. I have the same problem with scenes in my book. I hang onto them because they’re part of the lives I’ve created. It’s hard for me to hit delete.

But, I have good news to report. I revised my current manuscript—STICKS AND STONES. I’m not joking! I did it. I yanked out a whole subplot that didn’t work and put one in that did. Then I had to clean up all the areas that these changes affected. I’m not saying it’s all that great. But I did it! And I’m willing to work to make it even better.

Now that I’ve made this first round of revisions, I look at the disaster that some might call a house. It’s worse than ever. I guess I’ll have to tackle that as well. One counter at a time. One dish at a time. One scattered cleat at a time.

Welcome to Kim MacCarron’s Hell on Earth.